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Sue Clark Receives Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Sue Clark of Rio Vista, California, was presented the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award April 8, 2021. The award was presented via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 61. The award recognizes individuals who have “exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years.”

As of late April 2021, there were just 6,572 pilots on the Master Pilots “Roll of Honor.”

Nominated by friends and colleagues, Sue said getting the award “was quite a surprise and a wonderful honor.”

“I am just an ordinary pilot doing what pilots do,” she added.

Bit by the flying bug in 1967, Sue earned her private pilot certificate in 1967 in a Cessna 150 in Santa Monica, California. She continued to add on ratings, eventually becoming a flight instructor in 1973 for the Golden State Flying Club at Gillespie Field in San Diego. In 1975 she opened her own flight school, Scarf ‘N Goggles.

Realizing she needed to make some changes if she wanted to fly for the airlines, specifically building a lot of multi engine time, she became chief pilot for Navajo Aviation in Concord, California, in 1977.

In 1987 she was hired by American Eagle as a first officer. In just three months she was upgraded to captain and worked with the airline until she hit the mandatory retirement age of 60.

Throughout the years, she continued to work as a flight instructor.

“Sue was my flight instructor when I became certified in 1981,” said Cynthia Jeffrey Crawford. “Lucky me to have had this wonderful, accomplished, exacting woman launch my long-held passion to fly. Thank God she had a great sense of humor, which I constantly tested in the process. I remember our first flight when she brought several pillows to the trusty little Piper to raise her tiny body so she could see over the panel. We have shared many adventures over the years. I’m honored to call her friend and mentor.”

These days, Sue is busy volunteering for a number of organizations, including the Civil Air Patrol, Rio Vista Youth Services, Kids Can Fly, the 99’s, Fly with Fido, and Up With Drones. She has also competed in the Hayward Air Rally.

“What started out as a hobby became a life-long career filled with challenge, adventure, and meeting many wonderful people along the way and having the opportunity to work at something that didn’t really feel like a job,” she concluded.